Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 22, 2015

“the Lord had caused them to rejoice”

Today’s devotion comes from Ezra chapter 6.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra+6&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“13 Then Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues carried out the decree with all diligence, just as King Darius had sent.  14 And the elders of the Jews were successful in building through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.  And they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.  15 This temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar;  it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16 And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.  17 They offered for the dedication of this temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel.  18 Then they appointed the priests to their divisions and the Levites in their orders for the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.

19 The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month.  20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together;  all of them were pure.  Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves.  21 The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the Lord God of Israel, ate the Passover.  22 And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”  Ezra 6:13-22.

——————————

God is not only sovereign over events;  God is sovereign over hearts.

In today’s Scripture, we see that God caused the completion of the house of God.  That event was enough to cause joy and celebration.  But, in addition, we read:  “the Lord had caused them to rejoice”.  Verse 22.

As a side note, we note that in addition to being sovereign over the hearts of His people causing them to rejoice, the LORD was sovereign over the the heart of the king of Assyria.  The LORD “had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”  Verse 22.

This is great encouragement for us today.  Although we may be discouraged or depressed even when events are good for us (or even when our situation is not that bad compared to other people’s troubles), and although we also get further discouraged or further depressed recognizing that we should not feel this way, we can remember that God is not only sovereign over events;  God is also sovereign over hearts.  We can seek God Who causes us to rejoice. 

Ultimately, our heart’s hope is not in events;  our heart’s hope is in God.

“You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.”  Psalm 4:7.

“11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous
And gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Be glad in the Lord, you righteous ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.”  Psalm 97:11-12.

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting:  to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him;  for this is his reward.  Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor;  this is the gift of God.  For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.”  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, …”  Galatians 5:22.

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